AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

videoWhen: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City TV: CBS

The San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs each need a victory in Sunday's game to get into the playoffs. The difference is the 9-6 Chargers don't need any help to get into the postseason. The Chargers would claim one of the AFC wild-card spots regardless of what happens in other games.

The 8-7 Chiefs need to win and then have favorable results in two other games. If the Chiefs win, the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Ravens, that wild-card spot goes to Kansas City.

The Chiefs beat the Chargers 23-20 in October in San Diego.

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Chargers reporter Eric Williams preview Sunday's game.

Williams: What does the loss of quarterback Alex Smith mean to the Chiefs?

Teicher: The loss of Smith wouldn’t help the Chiefs no matter when it happened, but the timing of the diagnosis of a lacerated spleen also hurts. Smith practiced two days this week, leaving only Friday for backup Chase Daniel. So not only are the Chiefs going with a quarterback who had taken only a handful of snaps and thrown one pass in two games but one who didn’t get many practice snaps. Daniel played well in the final game of the season last year, also against the Chargers, when the Chiefs rested Smith for the playoffs. He was 21-of-30 for 200 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs missed a field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter that would have won the game. The Chargers then won in overtime.

Philip Rivers looked fine to me last week against San Francisco, at least in the second half. How limited is he with regard to his back and rib injuries?

Williams: Good question. As you mentioned, Rivers struggled early against the San Francisco 49ers, but then caught fire in the second half and led the Chargers to an impressive comeback victory. Rivers did not practice on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, and the limited reps seemed to put him in better shape physically going into game day. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Diego’s medical staff takes a similar approach this week. Rivers has a high pain tolerance, and can play through a lot of stuff. But at some point Mike McCoy has to weigh how efficiently a banged-up Rivers can perform versus a healthy Kellen Clemens. An added bonus for Rivers has been San Diego’s offensive line, which protected him better the past two weeks. Rivers was sacked just twice in 54 passing attempts against San Francisco.

The Chiefs still have a chance to make the postseason, but need some help after losing at Pittsburgh. How do you think Kansas City players will respond mentally after a tough loss on the road?

Teicher: The Chiefs have had a tough road lately. Four of their past six games have been against teams already in the playoffs. I wonder how much they have left in the tank at this point. The Chiefs still can make the playoffs, though their chance to make the postseason isn’t good even if they beat the Chargers, but I still expect them to play with energy on Sunday. I think they’re fortunate this game will be played at Arrowhead instead of on the road and it’s against a division rival. Those factors should help the Chiefs.

In what ways have the Chargers changed, if any, since they lost to the Chiefs in October?

Williams: Defensively, the Chargers are much different. Linebackers Melvin Ingram, Manti Te'o and Jeremiah Attaochu did not play in the first matchup. Ingram has been San Diego’s most effective pass-rusher since returning from the injured reserve/designated to return list after recovering from a hip issue in Week 11. Te’o is finally living up to his potential and making some splash plays. And Attaochu gives the Chargers another athletic body that can come off the edge. Since Week 10, the Chargers are tied for fifth in the NFL in red zone efficiency (36.4 percent), holding teams to an average of 21 points a contest.

Kansas City has lost four of its past five games, averaging just 18.6 points a contest during that stretch. What are the reasons for the Chiefs’ struggles on offense?

Teicher: The Chiefs don’t get many big pass plays, which is the root of their problem. The reasons for that are many. Pass protection has been mostly lousy. Smith was sacked six times last week in Pittsburgh and it’s not like the Steelers blitzed him much. They rushed four players on four of the sacks and three players on the other two. Receivers have struggled to get free from coverage and Smith had an affinity for checkdowns and other shorter routes. So opponents are lying in wait for Jamaal Charles and the running game and daring the Chiefs to do something they’ve had trouble with -- beating the defense with the deep ball.

What kind of season is Brandon Flowers having? Tough question here, but where do you suppose the Chargers might be right now if he hadn’t come along?

Williams: The Chargers are thankful to have Flowers this season. He’s been the team’s top cover corner, leading San Diego in interceptions (three) and pass breakups (13). Flowers has missed two games due to a groin injury and a concussion, but with first-round draft choice Jason Verrett out for the year after having shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum Flowers provides valuable leadership and production for a young cornerback group. His confidence and infectious energy has rubbed off on the rest of San Diego’s younger players. It’s safe to say San Diego would not be a win away from clinching a spot in the postseason without Flowers’ contribution. Flowers said he looks forward to playing in Kansas City against his former team for the first time.

What is your assessment of the job Andy Reid has done in his first two seasons with Kansas City?

Teicher: The program was in shambles when he walked in the door so I have to applaud not only the results but how quickly he was able to coax the Chiefs into achieving them. The Chiefs had been doing things the wrong way for a number of years but that abruptly changed when Reid and general manager John Dorsey arrived. The Chiefs have the look of a team that will challenge for a playoff spot for the foreseeable future. But the next step, and this is how Reid will ultimately be judged, is for the Chiefs to go deep into the playoffs and perhaps even make or win the Super Bowl. If he can’t eventually do that, his time with the Chiefs won’t and shouldn’t be viewed as a success.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pro Bowl voters have been extremely kind to the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years, and it appears they were again in 2014.

In case you missed it, the Chiefs will be sending four players to the Jan. 25 Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. Running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Tamba Hali will be participating for the fourth time, linebacker Justin Houston the third time and nose tackle Dontari Poe a second time.

Houston is without argument one of the best defensive players in the league and the Pro Bowl should be put out of its misery if he doesn't get selected. Though they aren't having what could reasonably be considered vintage seasons, Charles and Hali have compelling cases, too.

Charles is only 11th in rushing yards and well down the list of receiving leaders, but he's still averaging 5.1 yards per carry and is second in the league in touchdowns with 14. Those statistics, as well as his considerable value to the Chiefs, should at least get him into the discussion.

Hali has six sacks, so unless he has a huge game Sunday against San Diego at Arrowhead Stadium, he will finish with his lowest total since 2008. But he's still having a strong enough all-around season that he, too, at least merits consideration.

But it's difficult to justify the selection of Poe. He is unquestionably valuable to the Chiefs, but hasn't played nearly as well this year as he did in 2013. That can be difficult to quantify but Poe is ranked 35th by Pro Football Focus among defensive tackles this year.

The Chiefs have a couple of others who could have been selected. Fullback Anthony Sherman doesn't play a lot, but he's the top-rated fullback, according to Pro Football Focus. Cornerback Sean Smith is having a strong season, to the point where it wouldn't have been shocking if he made the Pro Bowl.

On balance, though, the Chiefs have little to complain about. In fact, one could argue they made out too well again.
videoPITTSBURGH -- The best offensive player for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday was an undrafted rookie wide receiver who a month ago wasn’t even a member of the playing rotation.

Nothing against Albert Wilson, who may have a bright future for the Chiefs. But they needed more if they were going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and maintain control of their playoff destiny.

But in the biggest game of their season, the Chiefs got little from a woeful offensive line, Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce and Dwayne Bowe. They settled for four measly field goals and that wasn’t going to get it done against one of the league’s highest scoring teams.

The Chiefs lost 20-12 and now not only need to beat the San Diego Chargers in next week’s regular season finale at Arrowhead Stadium to get into the playoffs. They also are dependent on the kindness of strangers in the form of the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and, perhaps, New England Patriots.

Those are the respective opponents of the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills. A win by any of those teams knocks the Chiefs from playoff contention even if they beat the Chargers next weekend. The Chiefs wouldn’t need a Buffalo defeat if the Bills lost their late game on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

“It completely changes things, for sure,’’ said quarterback Alex Smith, acknowledging the 8-7 Chiefs now need help to get into the postseason. “We’ve got a lot of character inside our locker room and I don’t think it will impact our preparation and how we go about things this week.’’

The Chiefs are in this uncomfortable predicament because they could muster little offense beyond the four field goals from rookie Cairo Santos. Kansas City had been a good team at scoring touchdowns while inside the opponents’ 20. It was second in the league heading into Sunday’s game at 67.5 percent.

The Chiefs were prevented from scoring a touchdown for the first time in their two seasons with Andy Reid as coach and Smith as quarterback. The Steelers choked them off all four times inside the red zone.

It was yet another symptom of an offense that needs plenty more punch. Longer term, the Chiefs need to address their shortcoming of playmakers through free agency and the draft.

But it’s too late for the Chiefs to do anything this season. Having a hapless offense endangers the Chiefs’ chances of merely doing their part to make the playoffs and beating San Diego next week. The Chargers statistically don’t have one of the NFL’s best offensive teams but they were good enough Saturday night with their playoff hopes on the line to put up 38 points and beat the San Francisco 49ers.

The Chargers, like the Chiefs, need to win next weekend in order to make the playoffs. So they will, no doubt, empty their bag of offensive tricks next Sunday knowing if they can get the score beyond a certain point, the Chiefs won’t be able to keep pace.

And what if the Chiefs do get into the playoffs? It seems ridiculous to suggest the Chiefs would be able to keep up with a scoring opponent like the Steelers or Colts.

The shame of it all is that the Chiefs’ defense did its part to limit Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense. For the most part, the defense held up its end of things this season.

The Chiefs on Sunday, and their season from the looks of things, were crushed by the weight of balky offense.
PITTSBURGH -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs' 20-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field:
  • Charles
    Running back Jamaal Charles traded jerseys with his Pittsburgh counterpart, Le'Veon Bell, on the field after the game. Charles walked into the locker room after the game without his jersey. But he was carrying Bell's black No. 26 jersey.
  • The Chiefs no longer control their destiny with regard to making the playoffs. They need to beat San Diego next week at Arrowhead Stadium and get help in the form of favorable results from other games. "It completely changes it, for sure,'' quarterback Alex Smith said.
  • Coach Andy Reid said the intent of the failed fourth-down play late in the first half was to score a touchdown and not just give the Chiefs a fresh set of downs. "That's what we were trying to do," Reid said.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs have rightly tried to do everything they possibly could this season to take the pressure off rookie kicker Cairo Santos. But they might have gone too far this week by blaming long snapper Thomas Gafford for two missed field goals in Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders.

The snaps on both kicks were off, but not by that much. In both cases, holder Dustin Colquitt did a nice job of getting the ball to the spot for Santos on time.

“It starts with the snap and the hold," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “The hold was good, and then that just throws it off a little bit.

“Sometimes when [Santos] feels like he needs to speed it up and he doesn’t see a perfect snap and it just throws the timing off a little bit and he hits the ball not like he wants to hit it. We have to make sure that everything is perfect. Especially with a rookie kicker, we have to be consistent. The snap and the hold have to be perfect.”

But as coach Andy Reid noted early in the week, it isn’t always going to be perfect for the kicker. To his credit, Toub didn’t let Santos escape without blame.

“We held him accountable, too," Toub said. “We didn’t make an excuse for him, that he missed it because of the snap. He was still able to see the ball. He has to get in there and make that kick.

“Being that it is his rookie year, we need to give him every opportunity to be successful. The veterans need to do that."

Toub said the Chiefs have no plans to promote long snapper Charley Hughlett, who was added to the practice squad this week, to replace Gafford.

“The timing of it seems like we’re trying to put the pressure on Gafford," Toub said. “We’re looking at a future guy, a possible guy that we’re going to have for training camp, in the offseason."

Chiefs will need pass rush against Steelers

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher says if Kansas City can get after Ben Roethlisberger it has a chance to beat Pittsburgh.

QB snapshot: Alex Smith

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
A quick observation of quarterback Alex Smith and how he played in the Kansas City Chiefs' 31-13 win in Week 15:

The Chiefs would happily accept another game from Smith on Sunday on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers like the one they got from their quarterback in last week's win against the Oakland Raiders. Smith threw for a season-high 297 yards, including the Chiefs' two longest pass plays of the season. Smith threw a 70-yard touchdown to Knile Davis and also completed passes of 48 and 37 yards.

Smith pushed the ball down the field like at no time since the season-opening game. He was 3-of-8 for 106 yards on passes that went at least 15 yards down the field. The attempts and yards were the highest since that season opener.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, his average throw against Oakland traveled 8.5 yards down the field, also highest since Week 1. That's far longer than his season average of 5.4 yards.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Running back Jamaal Charles was none too happy about being yanked from the game with the Kansas City Chiefs about to score a touchdown in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders but he had only himself to blame.

Charles had just taken a hit to the head, similar to the one he had taken in an October game against the San Diego Chargers. Then, he kept quiet about the incident until the next day, when he described having symptoms consistent to those of a concussion.

This time the Chiefs were quick to pull Charles from the game and examined him for a concussion, which it turns out he didn’t have.

“Really, he was complaining about his knee and ankle, not his head,’’ coach Andy Reid said. “But he did take a big hit there so we kind of went in that direction.

“In today’s football, you’re going to go through that. If somebody takes a big hit like that, you’re going to make sure you check them out."

Charles’ understudy, Knile Davis, scored the touchdown on the next play. The score gave the Chiefs a 17-6 lead in a game they would go on to win 31-13.

Charles failed to score a touchdown on Sunday for the first time in nine games. He wasn’t pleased about that.

“The next play they grabbed me and said, ‘We’ve got to go through the protocol and see if you’re fine,’ ’’ Charles said. “I’m like, ‘OK.’ The next play we scored. I was upset. I wanted to play the game. These injuries this year have been killing me this year. It’s part of the game but I’ve got to get over it.

“I had to go through the protocol with the concussion stuff. It was a big hit. I was fine. No seeing stars this time. I made it out clear this time.’’

Charles entered the game with lingering soreness in his knee and a sprained ankle from last week’s game in Arizona. He said he aggravated the ankle injury against the Raiders.

“I told the coach . . . they tried to twist my ankle,’’ Charles said. “The same thing happened last week. I just told them just give me time for my ankle to chill out right now because it was still under a lot of pressure. But I was fine. I could have played. I just told the coach I needed the time and I just needed to rest it.’’

Charles finished the game with 52 yards on 12 carries. He said he would be ready to play in next Sunday’s game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

“I just need to get off of it and ice it and everything would [be all] right,’’ he said. “It was still tender.’’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dwayne Bowe wouldn't reveal his answer, perhaps in fear of jinxing his quarterback, his team and its discovery of the downfield passing game.

But the possibilities seem endless for the Kansas City Chiefs if they can continue to open their passing game as they did in Sunday's 31-13 win over the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

"You've gotta stick around and wait for it," said Bowe, one of three players to catch a pass of longer than 35 yards on Sunday. "We've got to show you."

If indeed Bowe and his teammates continue to make as many long pass plays as they did Sunday, the Chiefs will be showing up in the postseason for the second straight season. This was the missing ingredient, the thing that prevented the Chiefs from hanging around the chase for the AFC West championship.

Their inability or refusal -- call it whatever you like -- to get big pass plays was rapidly ruining their season. The Chiefs survived with a five-game midseason winning streak because they were extraordinarily efficient on third down.

But they could ride an offense that had to plod its way down the field for only so long. It was putting too much pressure on everything else the Chiefs had going and it was inevitable something would cave in.

The Chiefs entered the game 28th in the NFL in yards per completion (9.68) and 26th in yards per attempt (6.83). Their longest pass play through 13 games, in a league with rules making it relatively easy for teams to get long pass plays, was 41 yards. Every other team had a pass play of at least 50 yards.

The Chiefs finally joined that club, not to mention the modern world, with a 70-yard passing touchdown to Knile Davis. Quarterback Alex Smith also had completions of 48 yards to Albert Wilson and 37 yards to Bowe.

Smith, who finished 18-of-30 for 297 yards and two touchdowns, had 16.5 yards for every completion and 9.9 yards for every attempt.

That's the stuff real NFL passing games are made of.

"That was one of the positives," coach Andy Reid said. "It loosens things up a bit. They were playing a lot of that single safety in the middle and putting that extra guy in the box obviously concerned about Jamaal [Charles] and the run game. That opened up some things down the field for us."

The Chiefs also protected Smith well, something they hadn't done. He was sacked once, but even that was after he had tucked the ball and decided to run but failed to make it back to the line of scrimmage.

"If we can do that, we have people that can make plays," Charles said. "We've got people that can run, that have wheels on them. It's going to open up a lot of stuff in the running game as well."

With that, Charles smiled. Big pass plays or not, he's the Chiefs' best offensive player and, he perhaps more than anyone, has carried the burden of playing for a team with a plodding passing game.

Opponents have consistently jammed the line of scrimmage in wait for Charles, daring the Chiefs to do what they believed impossible and complete some long passes. In that sense, if what the Chiefs put on video Sunday is enough to make next week's opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers, back off Charles a bit, that should help the Chiefs play to their strength.

"There [are] a lot of people locked in on me," Charles said. "If we can keep on doing this, I think that's going to be good for all of us."

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 31-13 win over the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium:

What it means: The Chiefs broke a three-game losing streak and raised their record to 8-6. They would make the playoffs as a wild-card entrant for the second straight year by winning their final two games of the season.

Stock watch: The Chiefs at long last got their downfield passing game to work. One wide receiver, rookie Albert Wilson, got deep for a 48-yard catch, while another, veteran Dwayne Bowe, hauled in a 37-yard pass in the first half alone. Running back Knile Davis caught a 70-yard touchdown pass in the second half. The Chiefs were able to harass Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr in a way they didn’t in last month’s loss to the Raiders. The Chiefs had four sacks and were otherwise consistently able to make Carr throw before he was ready. Tight end Travis Kelce lost a fumble for the second straight week, which the Raiders converted into a field goal. Kelce later scored on a 20-yard pass from Alex Smith. Rookie kicker Cairo Santos missed two of his three field goal attempts (from 44 and 47 yards).

Improved run defense: The Chiefs limited the Raiders to 78 rushing yards. While Oakland rushed for 4.6 yards a carry, 25 of their yards came on one play by Latavius Murray. Otherwise, the Chiefs were much improved. They allowed Murray to run for 112 yards and two touchdowns on four carries in last month’s game against the Raiders in Oakland.

Game ball: Rookie De'Anthony Thomas gave the Chiefs a boost when their offense was sluggish and needed some help. He returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to put the Chiefs ahead 7-0. The play was blocked well and Thomas was able to pull away from the Raiders when he got into the open field.

What’s next: The Chiefs play against the 9-5 Steelers at 1 p.m. ET next Sunday in Pittsburgh.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With Tamba Hali on the sideline nursing a sore knee and not practicing for the second straight day, rookie Dee Ford was in the starting lineup for the Kansas City Chiefs at outside linebacker on Thursday.

Even if Hali rallies later in the week and is available to play on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium, Ford could have a role. He replaced the injured Allen Bailey as a situational pass rusher last week against the Arizona Cardinals and Bailey is unlikely to be available again this week.

So after some weeks of getting almost no work on defense, Ford, their first-round draft pick, might loom large for the Chiefs down the stretch.

“With Allen being out, that created a spot where we said, OK, who’s our next best [pass] rusher for these third downs?" defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “Obviously it was Dee, and we tried to create some things to get him on the field in those situations."

The Chiefs are more comfortable for now using Ford as a situational pass rusher than as a full-time player. He struggled with run defense and pass coverage in limited playing time earlier in the season.

They were comfortable with him filling in for Bailey against Arizona.

“We think he’s got a real upside as far as rushing the passer,’’ Sutton said. “This was giving him an opportunity to kind of do that and get comfortable with those other things.

“I thought he did a really good job. He had no sacks, but there are other things going on. The key thing for us is to affect the quarterback. Get him off his spot. Make him throw when he’s not ready to throw. There were some real positives I thought he did in there."

If Hali doesn’t play on Sunday and Ford plays a full game, things could get interesting for the Chiefs. The Raiders have no doubt made note of Ford’s struggles during the season and will attack him with the run or when he’s in coverage.

Raiders vs. Chiefs preview

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City TV: CBS

The Oakland Raiders were winless and the Kansas City Chiefs tied for first place in the AFC West when the teams played each other Nov. 20 in Oakland. But the fortunes have turned for each team since the Raiders beat the Chiefs 24-20.

The 2-11 Raiders, who were 0-10 before beating the Chiefs, also won last week in beating the 49ers at home 24-13. In between, though, the Raiders were hammered by the Rams in St. Louis 52-0.

The loss in Oakland started what is now a three-game losing streak for the 7-6 Chiefs. They could still make the playoffs as a wild-card entrant by winning their final three games.

The Chiefs and Raiders play again Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Raiders reporter Bill Williamson preview the game.

Teicher: The Raiders have won two of their past three, both at home. In between was that ugly mess in St. Louis. Are they ready to take that next step here and win on the road?

Williamson: That’s the big question. Look, this season is never going to be remembered as a positive one in Oakland. The Raiders won a total of eight games the past two years, and they expected to be much better this season after a bunch of changes. Yet the losing has continued. Still, the Raiders can finish on a high note with a couple more wins to make the offseason easier to approach. But Oakland has to find a consistency. Coaches and players were really disappointed about the way they flopped after the win over the Chiefs. Now, Oakland wants to build on the big win over the 49ers with a season sweep of the Chiefs. Staying consistent is the focus of the team.

Do you think the Chiefs are a lot more nervous about the Raiders this time around?

Teicher: They should be. The result of the game Nov. 20 in Oakland didn’t look like a fluke to me. The Raiders outgained the Chiefs, and who knows what running back Latavius Murray would have accomplished had he not left the game early because of a concussion. He might have gained 1,000 yards. He’s a big concern for a defense that’s allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of the past four games. The Chiefs also need to do something to rattle rookie quarterback Derek Carr. They did nothing to get him out of his comfort zone the first time around.

Murray looked like the real deal against the Chiefs a few weeks ago, before he left the game. Have the Raiders finally given up on Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew? How will Murray fare as the full-time featured back?

Williamson: The job appears to be Murray’s for the rest of the season. He had 23 carries for 76 yards against the 49ers. McFadden and Jones-Drew have been disappointments this season. It is likely neither will be back next year. Thus, Murray will get the chance in the final three games to show Oakland it doesn’t have to worry about finding a lead back. Murray is an interesting player. After missing his rookie year last season with an injury, the former sixth-round draft pick started very slowly. But he has played well in the past three weeks, highlighted by his 90-yard touchdown run against the Chiefs on Nov. 20. The Chiefs will clearly be keying on Murray in this game. It will be fascinating to see who wins this battle.

What should we expect from the Chiefs' ground attack this week?

Teicher: I would expect a heavy dose of Jamaal Charles, if he’s up to it physically. He began the week with a swollen knee and a sprained ankle, so we’ll see. He was strong enough last week to rush for 91 yards on 10 carries and score both the Chiefs’ touchdowns. Knile Davis, his backup, has become just a bit player now. He hasn’t had more than five carries in a game since October. One thing interesting about the Raiders is historically they’ve done a better job than most opponents against Charles as a runner, at least. Charles did have a nice game against Oakland the previous time; he rushed for 80 yards and caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.

It must have been an interesting scene in Oakland last week, with Jim Harbaugh coaching against the Raiders. What are the chances he’s coaching in Oakland next year? What do the Raiders do if they can’t get Harbaugh? Any chance they’ll stay with their interim head coach, Tony Sparano?

Williamson: Adam, there is certainly smoke about Harbaugh crossing the Bay. Some issues would have to be worked out, but it is certainly on the table. Harbaugh is going to be a target of Oakland owner Mark Davis. I think the odds of it happening are better now than they were earlier in the season, partly because I think Harbaugh is quietly intrigued by the Silver and Black. If the Raiders strike out on Harbaugh, they will likely look at more affordable options. That’s where Sparano could come in. Players like him, and he could be a candidate, but it likely won’t be in the first wave.

Andy Reid seems to have a strong program built. Do you think the Chiefs are set up nicely for the future?

Teicher: I think they have too many good players and are too well-coached to just drop back into a dark period, like the one they emerged from after they hired Reid. But the fact is the Chiefs have, at best, the third-best quarterback in the AFC West, and that’s going to hurt them as they try to compete with the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders -- much less try to get to a Super Bowl. Smith is efficient, and the Chiefs can win some games with him as their quarterback. But he’s not going to saddle them on his back and carry them like Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers are capable of doing. The Chiefs need to surround him with better players if they’re going to compete for titles, division or otherwise.

Chiefs need big plays from receivers

December, 10, 2014
Dec 10

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher talks about the 41-yard pass from Alex Smith to Jason Avant vs. the Cardinals and the need for more big passing plays.

Chiefs need to win in division

December, 3, 2014
Dec 3

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher says the team needs to beat the Chargers and Raiders at home, and one other of the four games down the stretch, to make the playoffs.

QB snapshot: Alex Smith

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
A quick observation of quarterback Alex Smith and how he played in the Kansas City Chiefs' 29-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 13:

To judge from the passer ratings of the quarterbacks in the game, it would be easy to conclude that Smith outplayed Denver's Peyton Manning. Smith had a passer rating of 95.0, Manning 85.3.

This is a case of stats being misleading. Smith was outplayed by his counterpart. He did have a better completion percentage (65.2 percent to 50 percent for Manning) and threw a pair of touchdown passes, the same as Manning. But Smith threw the game's only interception and was greatly outnumbered in clutch throws by Manning. The Broncos converted 9 of 21 third-down plays, the Chiefs just 1-of-9.

Interestingly, Smith also had a better passer rating than Oakland's Derek Carr in the Raiders' 24-20 victory over the Chiefs in the previous game. Smith had a worse passer rating than his counterpart in his two outings before that, both Kansas City victories.